SENSIBLE HARE AND THE CASE OF THE CARROTS

This chapter-book mystery presents readers with more style than substance as it tells the tale of Sensible Hare, Hare Detective. Sensible doesn’t always act sensibly and is, in fact, rendered quite silly by the appearance of lovely Mazy Rabbit, who wants him to find a missing case of carrots. With the able assistance of Ottoman, the otter who lives in a tiny cupboard off Sensible’s office, he pursues clues and case into and out of a veritable den of thieves to a not-very-surprising conclusion. There’s so much right about this slim book: Sensible struggles to match his tough-hare persona, who “has tidy ears and … feet as fast as kung fu”; Mazy cries “parsley tears”; Sensible’s landlord, Mr. Ratchet, is “so big, he carrie[s] three smaller Mr. Ratchets in his overalls pocket”—literally. But as daffy detail heaps on daffy detail—Ottoman lives with a thimble he has named Thimble; Sensible’s office, a former haberdashery, has ghost hats floating about—the thin plot goes as missing as the case of carrots, and readers will wonder exactly what just happened. (Mystery. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25038-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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